Way back in 2006 I bought an 8" Titan Floating Winch Handle from West Marine for $37.99.
I've used this handle on various boats until this past Monday when I dropped it overboard. At the time I had just used it to raise the main as I was single handing my 35-foot boat. The handle fell in the water between Warwick Point and Patience. While the handle floats, the part that is visible while it is floating in the water is the hand grip, which is black. Narragansett Bay also
appears black especially with a little chop. I managed to climb down onto my swim platform and touched the handle twice (something I now regard as very foolish). While I could initially see the black hand grip and some of the red shaft, I could not get my fingers around it to retrieve it. My first pass was under sail, my second was under power. While coming around for my third pass, under power, I managed to loose sight of it. I searched for a while, probably 15 minutes, before I gave up the handle to the fish. I would have to make do with the two other handles that I keep aboard. The fish must be building quite a boat with all of the parts that I have dropped overboard.
While teaching sailing I have taught other sailors MOB procedures as part of ASA 101 and 103 for the past 5 years. However, because I was on my boat, on my time, in my back yard, and it was warm, I was not wearing my PFD. It was only after returning that I realized how easily I could have fallen overboard, without a PFD, because of a dumb $40 handle. I can now picture my boat sailing across the head of Narragansett Bay with no one aboard. Maybe this is what happened on the Mary Celeste?
Once I returned to my mooring I started looking for a replacement. I was shocked that the price of these handles has risen to $49.99! I ordered this handle as a replacement from Walmart for $31.49;
The reviews look good, and an 8" floating handle is an 8" floating handle. I believe that the orange and blue are easier to see than the red and black. If not, I'll paint the handgrip with flourescent yellow plastic paint.